One of our reviewers wanted us to objectively quantify where our sea level reconstruction displays rates of change. And that is something of which you could debate the use; the error bars are considerable, so you can chuck some mathematics in, and then you can find the most plausible times at which the rate of change itself changed. But if you then give the 2 sigma error bars you find that you just can't be sure. So I think this is a case of pseudo-accuracy, but hey, if we need to do this to get the paper published then that’s how it is.
How do you do this? There is software for such tasks. Sometimes that is rather expensive. Sometimes it's free, but then it tends to not be too user-friendly. I started chasing down options, and drew blanks. There is a program of which I know it can do this, but I couldn't get it to work (rampfit; anybody who is good with that out there?). It just closed itself all the time! And other options were about as promising. But I have co-authors who are good with this sort of things. One speaks R as fluently as he speaks English, and Tasha tends to be able to solve any problem with modern technology. But the former only spat out uncertainty envelopes, and the latter was on the right track to sort it out but bumped into a wall of something not having been published yet and us not being able to use it until that had happened. And we can't wait for it! Oh dear. Now what? I don’t know. Hopefully, our R-speaking co-author will think of something smart.
I’m writing this on board the RRS James Cook. It doesn’t have very strong internet. You may notice I uploaded a very small picture with this post! I only have my private laptop here, I’ll be busy coring, and I won’t be able to download any software or documentation, nor upload any files to the journal’s website from here. So it’s now out of my hands for 6 weeks! I assume I’ll be kept up to date; text emails should come through without many problems. But my work on the paper is now suspended. And I do hope that when I get back, all I have to do is upload the whole shebang and hit “submit”! And I do feel a bit bad about it, as I am first author and I sure don’t seem to be the person who tackles this analysis of the rates of change. But that’s how it sometimes goes; we do have people on the author list exactly for this sort of thing! Let’s just hope it all works out…if we manage to get it published it's an "all well that ends well" situation!
The field site in Iceland
PS things are moving... Mr R seems to have produced what we want, so now this last calculation can be incorporated into the manuscript, and then it can go! And it will be after I get back that it gets resubmitted, but I will sail in confidence that there'll be something submittable ready when I get back onto land! That's a good feeling...